RAF Winttering Co Responders Team road safety day

Wednesday 16th November 2022

Ten years of life saving emergency medical care has been achieved by Royal Air Force Wittering’s team of Co-Responders.

The RAF Wittering Co-Responder Team is celebrating its ten-year anniversary following its formation in 2012. The team, who is equipped, trained and tasked by East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS), stood up for its first operational shift in October 2012 and has been supporting the service in saving lives ever since.

No 5131 Bomb Disposal Squadron was the birthplace of Wittering’s Co-Responder Team. In 2011 Chief Technician (then Corporal) Christian Lee suggested setting up a responder team to Warrant Officer John (Tommy) Tomiczek, as both men had been First Responders at other Stations.

Chief Technician Lee said:

“I was surprised that there wasn’t a team as it’s quite a rural area. Tommy agreed to help, and we started talking to EMAS. We said that we would provide the people if they could provide the vehicle, equipment and training – and they agreed. It took a year to organise, but we’ve made a difference to so many lives, it’s been incredible.”

Co-Responders are volunteers with a high level of medical training. Wittering’s team generally covers the southern parts of Lincolnshire and is dispatched to emergencies at the same time as EMAS ambulance crews. With the exception of mental health and maternity cases, they attend most emergency situations.

It has been a busy ten years and the team is often confronted with serious medical conditions such as breathing difficulties, chest pains, strokes and cardiac arrests. In the last three years alone they have clocked up more than 14,000 individual volunteer hours, and have been sent to nearly 3000 medical incidents.

Warrant Officer Dave Hughes is the RAF Wittering Co-Responder Team Leader. He said:

“They are all dedicated volunteers who give of their own time; they take their training seriously and conduct themselves with real professionalism. I am proud to serve with this confident, dynamic decision making team who go above and beyond to bring these key skills into the workplace.”

The team has up to 30 Co-Responders at any one time, and they come from all three Armed Forces and the Civil Service. The team also includes spouses and military veterans who joined the Co-Responders before retiring. In addition to their training, volunteers give a minimum of 200 clinical hours each year.

A typical shift lasts around six, often unsociable, hours. EMAS provides all the equipment and training, including the specially marked fast response vehicle in ambulance livery. Training is delivered from the EMAS Training Centre in Lincoln, which includes clinical skills and emergency response driving.

Warrant Officer Hughes said:

“We receive amazing support from the Station and EMAS, which enables us to help those who are in dire need. Being part of a Co-Responder team transforms our volunteers; they are given new skills, they grow as individuals, and the level of teamwork, which is already strong because of their military training, takes on a whole new dimension.”

Wing Commander Jez Case is the Station Commander at RAF Wittering and recently spent a shift with Co-Responders. He said:

“You have to see our Co-Responders with your own eyes to fully understand what they do. From their sheer professionalism and the quality of life-saving care they give; nobody would ever believe that our Co-Responders are volunteers. In training and on duty, they are unselfish, dedicated, and they deserve our sincere gratitude.”

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